The Barossa Valley Machinery Preservation Society has officially opened its brand new home, a massive corrugated iron “time capsule” housing some of the Barossa’s most significant history.
Located within the Angaston Railway Station precinct, the 900 square metre shed measuring 60 by 15 metres, glistened under the sun on Sunday afternoon as guests witnessed the Society’s longest serving member, Mr Brice Pohl open its doors during a ceremony with a difference.
Club president, Mr John Anderson said because they were not “ribbon people”, they found a more appropriate way to commemorate the auspicious occasion.
“We’re not a needlework club, we’re restorers and we use metal so we gave Bryce a tin snips to cut a strip of gold metal and then someone inside pressed the button to open the big door!” laughed Mr Anderson.
The sound of applause echoed through the cavernous shed before guests saw its historic contents, including rare tractors once owned by the Society’s founder, Kevin Rohrlach which are now on display thanks to Peg Lindner, wife of the late Carl Lindner who purchased them at auction following the closure of Kevin Rohrlach’s Museum in the nineties.
“Kevin Rohrlach was the founder of this Club and that’s the link. He and about six or so other men started the club in 1976,” explained Mr Anderson.
“That’s the warm and fuzzy part of the story, the collection coming back here. Peg’s idea was to bring them in here so more people can appreciate them…she still owns them but we are the carers.”
Mr Anderson said Sunday’s official opening was not only a celebration of the Society’s permanent new home, but also highlighted the hard work and determination of Club members who had made it a reality.
“We are very proud of this achievement…We were always worried that our former site [on Tyne Street] would get sold and that did happen,” he said.
“We thought we were better off putting our money into this shed and to everybody’s credit, we came in under budget. The original budget was $340,000 and as it stands now, the shed and the concrete floor, it is $320,000.”
The Barossa Council gifted the site within the railway precinct and provided a loan which the club will now need to service through a range of fundraising activities including holding “running events” at their new premises and attending the Royal Adelaide Show each year.
“We have a $105,000 loan from Council which we are paying off over 10 years,” explained Mr Anderson.
“The rest of the money we earned through our fundraising. People still think the Society received money as part of the Angaston Railway… we didn’t, we applied for a separate grant and missed out.”
Mr Anderson described the Society as an “action club”, one that could rally together to ensure the plan they “hatched” more than a dozen years ago would eventuate.
“It was a real Club effort….and local members did most of the work,” said Mr Anderson, admitting volunteer hours tallied into the thousands.
A number of other community members were also instrumental in making the Club’s shed come in under budget and they were recognised during Sunday’s afternoon tea.
“It would be remiss of us to not thank those people who, through their generosity, saved the Club thousands of dollars,” said Mr Anderson.
Society secretary, Mr John Richardson said earth moving for the project started on August 20, 2018 after a long initial wait for land to be transferred to Council.
“2,000 tonne of rock was shifted and earth was moved – footings were started on August 30 and one week later, the erection of the shed started. We finished on October 30.” Mr Richardson said with a sense of pride.
That same feeling of accomplishment is evident in all members, including the committee’s Phil Martin, one of many men and women who helped create what has been described as a valuable asset for the region.
“It’s a time capsule of Barossa history and it ought to be worth a lot to the people of the Barossa” Mr Martin said.
“Although there are a few things that have come from outside of the area, the emphasis is on what built the Barossa…the old stuff in this storage shed helped make the Barossa what it is today – it is part of our history.
“You don’t get much closer to history than this!”